Sunday, November 17, 2019

When Aaryn Rubin heard about the horrific events that encircled the Jewish community when the Sassoon family were victims of one of the worst fires in nearly a decade, she sprung into action. It was then that she realized that the fire alarms in her apartment were not functional at all. “My landlord didn’t provide me with smoke alarms,” she said. Her reaction was one many people never think about: “Oh my gosh, how did I miss this?”

Considering additional safety measures, she realized much more was at stake. “My [young] kids don’t know how to call 911. What if there’s a fire?” she asked. “When I was little, the fire department came to my house and we did an escape plan for the entire family. I felt that the kids were not receiving that kind of education. Safety education was really missing from their lives.” Little lessons like how to deal with choking, learning the importance of “stop, drop and roll,” not talking to strangers and riding bikes with helmets are expected to be taught by the parents, but some parents don’t even know where to begin to teach their children.

There are more than twice as many deaths in fires in homes with nonfunctional or absent smoke alarms as in homes with functional smoke alarms, according to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA). This staggering statistic means a small change could help save lives. Unfortunately, safety awareness is not often discussed except in response to tragedy. Ongoing education could save lives.

With Rubin working aggressively with the help of the Riverdale Jewish Center, which has allowed for the use of its social hall, Safety Awareness Day has been announced. This free event, to be held on Sunday, October 25 from 9 a.m. until 1 p.m., will give children and their parents a crash course on fire safety, stranger danger, bike safety, kitchen safety, poison safety and more. Rubin aggressively sought the participation from representatives from a number of safety organizations and public service groups to ensure that the program will be a fun and educational one. Several presentations and booths geared to children and adults of all ages from the FDNY, NYPD, Poison Control, water safety group Aquabilities, Hatzolah and others will be there to answer any questions. Children will have hands-on experience with ambulances, police cars, fire trucks and the FDNY safety house, giving them a life-like experience of learning how to escape a burning room and house. There will also be crafts, balloons and materials available for distribution to all attendees so that the children can take the safety lessons home with them.

The event is come and go as you please, in an open-house format where educational sessions will rotate throughout the day.

Lunch from Cafeccino Bakery in Riverdale will be available for purchase at cost, so it’s a perfect day to gain more education that can truly save lives while enjoying some of the best Riverdale has to offer. Donations are also being accepted to cover expenses for this free event.

By Tamar Weinberg

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